A film based on the story behind the famous MercyMe hit single ‘I Can Only Imagine’ is presently shooting in Oklahoma and is expected to be released in the spring of 2018.
The movie is directed by brothers Jon and Andrew Erwin, who also directed the faith-based films ‘Moms’ Night Out,’ ‘October Baby’ and ‘Woodlawn.’ The film is produced by Travis Mann, Scott Brickell and Simon Swart, according to Deadline.
“They approached me five years ago,” MercyMe, referring to the making of the film, said last week on a post to Facebook. “No turning back now.”
The story of the movie, which will have the same title as the song, revolves around the life of MercyMe vocalist Bart Millard, who composed the song after his father died—a time when he meditated about what it would be like to finally see and stand before God.
The song was first recorded in 1999 as part of The Worship Project album from an independent record label. In 2001, MercyMe recorded it again and released it as the lead single for their album Almost There.
The song was an instant hit on Christian radio charts. However, it didn’t stay there and crossed over to mainstream radio, becoming what Billboard called “the most played Christian radio single in history.” It has achieved double platinum in digital download sales, and its album, ‘Almost There,’ almost reached triple platinum, according to Deadline.
The song’s transition from Christian to mainstream radio began in January 2003 when the hosts of a Wild 101 FM radio show played it as some kind of joke. However, the listeners liked the song so much that the station received frequent requests to play it again, according to The Blaze.
“With the surprise success of 'I Can Only Imagine' outside the Christian market, Texas-based MercyMe has done what virtually no other Christian band has done before -- crossed into mainstream music with a song that is overtly Christian,” a 2003 report from ASCAP, a professional organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers, said.
Millard said he generally preferred to write songs with the group. ‘I Can Only Imagine’ is only one of the few songs he has written on his own, but surprisingly, it “connected with the people and literally changed everything” for the band.
The song already has a huge fan base, but whether the movie will be as widely accepted or not is yet to be seen.
The film is shooting its final scene this Friday 6:30 p.m. at Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall. The scene will show Amy Grant, who was originally the one who was supposed to record the song, at a concert inviting Millard to the stage to share the story behind ‘I Can Only Imagine.’ After Millard shares the story, he sings the song before the crowd.
Actor Dennis Quaid stars in the movie. The film also stars Grammy nominee Trace Adkins, Academy Award winner Cloris Leachman, broadway actor J. Michael Finney, Priscilla Shirer from ‘War Room’ and Madeline Carroll from ‘Machine Gun Preacher.’ Millard will also appear in the film.